Make-A-Difference: Critical Design and Making by Children
Children of today are surrounded by digital technology from their birth; however, they have limitations in understanding it and lack the skills and competencies to shape and make it to suit their needs and desires. Children should know how to innovate, design and build new technology; the mere ability to use it is not sufficient anymore. They should be offered such skills and competences, added with a critical stance towards design, making and technology as well as a will to utilize those for empowering people and making the world a better place. Schools and teachers are in desperate need of help in educating children in this respect.
The Make-a-difference project aims to understand and facilitate the emergence of critical designer and maker identities among children. This will be accomplished by exploring and engaging in critical design and making activities together with children. The project objectives are:
- Theoretical: development of a theoretical framework on children’s critical designer and critical maker identity emergence and trajectories: on their emergence, negotiation, rejection and/or performance
- Empirical: creation of rich, in-depth dataset of the emergence, negotiation, rejection and performance of critical designer and critical maker identities, activities and discourses among children.
- Methodological: methodological guidelines for critical design and making with children and adaptation of nexus analysis for the study of critical design and making with children.
The project contributes to scientific knowledge by accomplishing the following expected outcomes
- Theoretical framework on children’s critical designer and maker identity trajectories: on identity emergence, negotiation, rejection and performance: understanding of the variety of ways how critical design and making may be intertwined in children’s everyday practices, identities and discourses. This involves further development of the identity lens for the purposes of this research.
- Rich, in-depth dataset: on the emergence, negotiation, rejection and performance of critical designer and critical maker identities, activities and discourses among children.
- Methodological guidelines for critical design and making with children.
- Methodological guidelines for nexus analytic inquiry on children and critical design and making.
The four-year project started in Jan 2020 and is funded by the Academy of Finland. From Autumn 2020, the project has been ongoing with three schools in Oulu with over 20 pupils in each school. All the materials used at the schools, which include design booklets, inspirational videos, and other handouts were made into downloadable versions and are listed below.
The project is divided into three parts which contain in total seven phases:
- Part 1 Sensitizing, contains phases 1. Sensitizing with technologyand 2. Sensitizing with bullying
- Part 2 Critical Design and Making, contains phases 3. Ideation, 5. Critical analysis, 5. Planning and prototypingand 6. Drama
- Part 3 Reflection, contains phase 7. Reflection and evaluation
PART 1 - Sensitizing
1. Sensitizing with technology:
- Enquiring childrens relationship to technology
- Exercise: Technology Friendship Book
- Exercise: Interviewing a close adult
2. Sensitizing with bullying:
PART 2 - Critical Design and Making
- PP - Miracle Method
- PP - Ideation 1
- Video - Design Fiction (See below)
- Video - An end to bullying (See below)
- PP - Ideation 2
- Group exercise - Personas and scenarios
4. Critical analysis:
5. Planning and prototyping:
PART 3 - Reflection
7. Reflection and evaluation:
- PP - End discussion
- PP - Prototype evaluation
- End interviews for the children
- Reflection as a continuous task
Guide for teachers
Will be added later on.
There are modifiable versions of all files that can be given upon request. If you need these modifiable files, please contact us for example through social media.
If companies are interested in this material and designing with children, we recommend contacting schools and start collaborating with teachers.
Share your experiences:
We welcome you to share your experiences with the project and its materials on your social media.
Please tag us in your posts:
- Jäälin koulu, Oulu, Finland
- Kaakkurin koulu, Oulu, Finland
- Oulu International School, Oulu, Finland
- City of Oulu, Finland
- Center for Computational Thinking & Design, Aarhus University, Denmark.
- Cultural Research in Technology Lab, School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, Indiana University Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.A.
- Department of Industrial Design, Eindhoven University of Technology, Netherlands.
- Embodied Learning & Experience Lab, Department of Computer & Information Science & Engineering, University of Florida, U.S.A.
- Department of Computer Science and Research Center for Excellent IT Education, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway.
- Free University of Bolzen-Bolzano, Italy.
[Page last updated: November 25th 2021]